Polymers and the Environment— current problems and future research


  • Prof. Gerhard Wegner,

    1. Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung Postfach 31 48, D-55021 Mainz (FRG)
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    • is a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Mainz in 1965 and after two years postdoctoral work in the USA returned to the University of Mainz to begin a university career. In 1974 he joined the University of Freiburg as professor of polymer chemistry and became Director of the Institute for Macromolecular Chemistry before moving to his present position in 1984. His contributions to the fields of polymers, and solid-state organic chemistry in general, have been recognized through the award of many national and international honors, including, most recently, the Otto Buyer Prize, the Research Prize of the Philipll Morris Foundation, and the Hermann Staudinger Medal of the German Chemical Society.

  • Dr. Kurt Wagemann

    Corresponding author
    1. Dechema Postfach 150104, D-60061 Frankfurt (FRG)
    • Dechema Postfach 150104, D-60061 Frankfurt (FRG)
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    • studied chemistry at the University of Munich, gaining his Diploma for work carried out under Prof. G. Ertl and his Ph.D., in 1989, for research with Prof. K. Kompa at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics. In the same year he joined DECHEMA, working on a project supported by the German Bundesminister für Forschung und Technologie concerned with the definition of application-oriented research topics in chemistry. He is now head of a group dealing with project coordination and program planning and responsible for the organization of DECHEMA congresses.


Is waste disposal by physical recycling always the best solution? Taking plastics as an example, the various alternatives—physical recycling, chemical recycling, thermal recycling, biologically degradable polymers—and the problems connected with them—separation of mixtures, additives, the need to keep biodegradable and other polymers separate—are examined. Topics for future research are proposed.